WEIGHT CONTROL: Which exercise is best for you?

But should you focus just on cardio exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming or cycling? Or should you lean (no pun intended) toward the weight machines and weight classes? Are low-intensity, long-duration exercises better than high-intensity, shorter duration activities? Should you go out for a leisurely walk for an hour or would the 30-minute boot camp class be a wiser choice?

So many choices! Which one is best?

One thing that many folks do not realize is that your body usually draws energy (calories) from three energy banks in the body: carbohydrates, fat and protein. No matter what you are doing, your body will extract energy (calories) from these three energy banks. The intensity of the activity or exercise is what primarily determines what bank the energy will be drawn from.
Here is an example that will help you put this energy bank/withdrawal analogy into perspective. A high intensity boot camp class or a spinning class featuring a hefty number of sprints will draw primarily from the carbohydrate stores.

A slow, leisurely walk in the local park or in your neighborhood will draw from primarily the fat storage bank because the intensity is very low.

If you decide to go out for a medium intensity jog or take a low to intermediate step class, the energy will be pulled from both carbohydrate and fat stores.

So what would be the best option or options here? The slow, leisurely walk will withdraw a greater percentage of calories from the fat bank, but the overall amount of calories expended will probably be less than the medium intensity jog or the step class. On the other side of the intensity spectrum, the highly intense boot camp or spinning class will draw most of the calories from the carbohydrate bank and will result in a fairly substantial caloric expenditure.

What is more important to someone who wants to lose fat weight? Which would you choose? Do you care if the calories that you expend are coming from your fat stores or carbohydrate stores? Or is it more important to focus on the total number of calories expended?

Remember that the key to maintaining a constant weight or trying to lose weight really gets down to how many calories are coming into your system and how many are being expended through physical activity. Any activity that burns calories is good for your health and greatly aids in losing or maintaining your weight. The ideal activity is something that you enjoy doing.

Running, for example, is a great calorie burner, but not everyone is built to run or enjoys it. Walking, however, is something that nearly everyone can do and it does burn quite a few calories per minute if the pace/intensity is high enough. In general, as the duration and intensity of your activity increases, your caloric expenditure will also increase.
One has to remember that everyone is unique when it comes to exercise and weight loss. The key to weight loss is to be consistent in whatever activities or classes that you participate in. Mixing up classes and routines is always helpful when sticking to a program. 

What it boils down to is to find an activity that works for you. Discover your own unique “recess period(s)” that fits your schedule and budget. As I have stated before, if you are moving, you are improving.